The Kiwibrevet is an unsupported 1100km cycling event around the top half of New Zealand's South Island that must be completed between 4 and 8 days
I'd watched the last two Kiwibrevet fascinated by the little blue balloons making their way around the top half of the South Island, wondering if it was the sort of thing I, a cyclist of average ability, could do. The Grand Depart facebook page appeared in May this year, at this point I floated the idea to SWMBO and wasn't turned down. The die was cast.
I decided to finish the Hockey season before I got into any kind of training other than my normal riding which at this point was the odd commute a couple of lunchtime rides and a longer ride every few weekends, averaging according to Strava less than 100km a week.
The Hockey season (my first in 6 years) finished a little early with a strained hamstring. The idea was to use my commute a 56km round trip as the base for my preparation, this would have me doing the bulk of my riding during the week and leave my weekends relatively free. I gradually built up my mileage to around 300km per week, with every fifth week being a quiet week due to being on call.
I started doing some longer rides, extending my commute to include the Eastern hills above the Hutt Valley and the Akatarawas. Highlights included a trip from home to Battle Hill to play a game of golf with the "Old Farts" which turned into more of a grovel the closer I got to Battle Hill. My first 100km ride in November was an extended commute through the Akatarawas, I remember being tired afterwards but not too broken. Next up was the Longest Day Ride an annual event, brainchild of Tama Easton and a fundraiser for Arthritis NZ, this was my first attempt at riding all day, I managed to cover 159km with plenty of hills.
In the meantime I was reading all the previous blogs and rider profiles to work out how I was going to equip myself for the event. A new bike was out of the question so I was going to use my 06 Giant XTC. I decided I would take some camping gear as I wanted the option to bed down wherever required, I would mount my gear in dry bags, one on a freeload rack on the back and another strapped to areo bars on the front plus my camelbak for extra water and for stuff I wanted to get at easily. I tested out the camping gear after Christmas when I camped at Maungaweka and did 4/5 of the Gorges to Sea Cycleway in the Rangitikei the next day, I discovered that the bivvy bag is not an ideal solution in the wet as any water you get into it as you are setting up stays there. In the end I did 162km fully loaded.
Just over a month to go and there not much else I can do to prepare, just fine tuning of gear, sorting of maps and cue sheets etc.